In Oregon, Judge Vance Day is at the center of an investigation for refusing to perform same-sex marriages and telling his staff to refer gay couples to other judges. Day claims his deeply held religious beliefs prompted his decision, and he’s already preparing for a legal battle.
Oregon officially started recognizing same-sex marriages in 2014, according to the Guardian, after a federal court struck down the state’s ban. Vance Day reacted by telling his staff to refer gay couples to other judges.
Later in the Fall, he stopped performing marriages altogether, aside from one long-scheduled ceremony in March.
The judge’s spokesman Patrick Korten explained further.
“He made a decision nearly a year ago to stop doing weddings altogether, and the principal factor that he weighed was the pressure that one would face to perform a same-sex wedding, which he had a conflict with his religious beliefs.”
Despite his efforts, the Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability is now investigating the judge. The commission is looking into several allegations, but the same-sex marriage issue is reportedly the “weightiest.”
Day is now ready to raise money to pay for the future legal fight, according to the AP. The Oregon Government Ethics Commission approved his request to create a legal defense fund. The application was reportedly the first sign the Judge Day was the subject of an investigation.
Judge Vance Day is the latest in a growing list of officials who refuse to issue marriage certificates or licenses to homosexual couples.
The cases have resulted in a patchwork of inconsistent state policies.
In Kentucky, county clerk Kim Davis went to jail for refusing to issue marriage licenses, as reported in a previous Inquisitr article.
In Texas, Hood County paid $43,000 in legal fees to finally compel county clerk Katie Lang to give a license to a homosexual couple.
In Alabama, the law states counties “may” issue licenses to gay couples, according Local CBS19, which has led at least 10 counties to close their licensing operations.
In North Carolina and Utah, the government allows clerks and other officials to decline participating in marriage licensing operations if they have a sincere religious objection.
What kind of policy will Oregon have?
The investigation into Judge Vance Day is still early, and there have not been any formal charges levied. Still, Jeana Frazzini, co-director of the gay-rights group Basic Rights Oregon, is concerned about the judge’s move to stop issuing licenses.
“Taking that kind of a step really calls into question how an LGBTQ person could expect to be treated in a court of law. It goes beyond marriage and gets to serious questions about judicial integrity.”
Judge Vance Day also served as chairman of the Oregon Republican Party.
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